Do You Know What DIY Is?

True story. My colleagues briefed me on an idea about "DIY." They said they heard about an increasingly popular, two-year-old internet show which focuses on "DIY." We could use the show as a way to demonstrate the "DIY" trend in these recessionary times, they told me.

Wow, I thought. Sounds great. I just had one teeny, tiny problem but I hesitated to raise it. Could I be the only person on the planet who didn't know what "DIY" was? Finally, I mustered up the courage and asked, "What's DIY?"

Do It Yourself, they told me, as in Do It Yourself Fashion, which is the subject of tonight's closing piece on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.

It seems Grandma's knitting circle is no longer just for grandmothers. We found pastors, aging punk rockers, even 12-year-old girls who are doing it themselves, learning the tricks of the trade on ThreadBanger.com, an internet show hosted by two twentysomethings and two DIY-ers, Corinne Leigh and Rob Czar. (The show is a production of Next New Networks.)

Over hip hop music, Corinne and Rob tout ways to make trendy fashion on the cheap, covering everything from the basics, like sewing a button (one of their most popular shows) to building a bikini out of old T-shirts. (You'll have to watch the show to find out how they do that!)

As the seams of the economy's lining have been ripped apart, ThreadBanger.com has taken off, with one million monthly viewers now compared to 500,000 last year.

How often do they hear the economy is forcing viewers to do it themselves, I asked? "It's a huge thing," said Corinne. "People are looking for any way to save money."

Viewers include 23-year-old Kelly Kerwin, owner of some 80 dresses, who says Doing It Yourself is now the cool way to go. "Whenever anyone says like, 'Oh, where'd you get that?' and I'll say I made it, and their eyes light up. And they're like, 'Oh really, explain."

Corinne and Rob weren't always DIY-ers, they admit. They're former shopaholics who in their teenage years would never dream of going to Goodwill for clothes. They now shop there regularly and brag about how they can make bathrobes out of old towels, pencil skirts out of sheets.

"I was horrified to shop at Goodwill but I've turned a new leaf over," said Corinne. "This whole place is a jackpot," Rob beamed as he showed us around a Goodwill store in Manhattan.

I had to ask Rob if his friends tease him for shopping at Goodwill and hosting a show on Do It Yourself Fashion. "At first, it was like, they were like, come on, but then I started getting emails from them, 'Hey, I got a button that I need to sew on." And Corinne added, "Well, your best friend just emailed and wants a sewing machine for himself so that's pretty good." Yeah, Rob says, "The tables are turning."

I guess they definitely are. I wouldn't say I'm a new DIY-er but it's hard not to be motivated by Corinne and Rob and the power of stitching and saving. I was about to throw away my 3-year-old daughter's tights which have a big hole in the knee. Forget that. I'll drag my sewing box out of the closet instead!

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